With last Saturday’s loss to Michigan and all of the drama that came with it now behind Michigan State, the Spartans now turn their attention to a Purdue team that is trending upward after its impressive upset win over Ohio State last week.
At his weekly press conference on Tuesday, Michigan State head coach Mark Dantonio said that he wants his team to simply focus on the games in front of them and expects his team to improve as it gets healthier as several players are set to return to action in the next couple of weeks.
“You know, our goal right now is to finish and finish October, and again, see what November brings,” he said. “My take on things is, like I keep saying, we're in every football game, we could win every football game. The goal of this program will be always to win, and that will be the priority. So we'll focus on that, and as we get guys injured back, we'll see how that all shakes out and where they're at in the scheme of things. I think the one thing you've got to recognize when you get guys back, are they fully healthy or are they playing hurt, and so you want to play the best players, and so you try to do those things, even at the quarterback position. I thought he (Lewerke) had velocity so we went with it. We'll continue to make those decisions.”
But the Spartans will have their hands full as they look to remain above .500, considering Purdue has won four straight games after losing its first three games of the season and the Boilermakers now look like a team that could make it to Indianapolis out of the Big Ten West.
As for what’s been key to Purdue’s turnaround in recent weeks, Dantonio cited the play of star freshman Rondale Moore, as well as the job that second year head coach Jeff Brohm has done since arriving in West Lafayette.
“I think first of all, Purdue started out 0-3 losing three games very, very late in the game, and then now they've gone on a four-game win streak, playing very, very well right now offensively,” he said. “I've been very impressed with their quarterback. He dishes the ball to the correct people, spreads it around. No. 4 Rondale Moore is an outstanding receiver, freshman, do-it-all kind of guy. Jet sweeps, catching the ball, punt return, kickoff return. Coach Brohm has done a great job there since getting there really last year and sort of turning the program. He's going to run trick plays. He's going to run fake punts, four of them last year, so those type of things.”
Coming off of a big rivalry game against Michigan, the argument could be made that Michigan State may have trouble bouncing back and being ready for a tough Purdue team on Saturday afternoon, but throughout the Dantonio era at Michigan State, the Spartans have continued to avoid so-called letdown games and, instead, will look to bounce back on Saturday at Spartan Stadium.
Dantonio admitted that last week’s loss to the Wolverines was obviously a tough pill to swallow, but said that he expects his team to be well prepared and ready to play at a high level once again on Saturday.
“Well, you know, it was tough on Sunday, as I said before, when you have a tough situation you've got to get up out of bed,” he said. “Believe me, there's been a lot of different people around the conference having to experience that, whether it's this year, last year, whatever. That's part of sport. That's part of competition. That's part of athletics. You've got to learn to do that. That's part of the process. That's part of growth. You know, I think our football team has done a good job with that. I don't think there's been a game where we've come and said, we're not prepared mentally or we're not prepared emotionally. We've come to play emotionally, and what we've got to do is execute. But we're going to play with effort and toughness.”
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